Thursday, February 25, 2010

Feb 25 1945: The Rocket Eclipses Malone’s Goal Mark

image On February 18 1944, Maurice “Rocket” Richard tied Joe Malone’s single season goal mark of 44 goals. Malone’s record had stood since March of 1918.

A week later Richard and the Montreal Canadiens faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs, with Richard looking to make history and with Malone in attendance at the Montreal Forum to bear witness.

For most of that Sunday night, goaltender Frank McCool and the Leafs defense, led by checking wingers Nick Metz and Bob Davidson, had done everything they could to avoid letting in the historic goal.

But while the Leafs hooked, checked and hit the Canadiens star scorer, it let open scoring opportunities for the rest of the team.

Toe Blake, Bud O’Connor, Elmer Lach and Emile Bouchard all found the back of the Leafs net.

The game not only had scoring and the anticipation of the record breaking goal, but also 18 fighting penalties and a bench-clearing brawl.

The Forum fans anxiously awaited Richard’s moment, rising to their feet each time he had control of the puck and flopping back in their seats in disappointment when it didn’t happen.

Finally, with Montreal up 4-2, with three minutes to play, and in the Toronto end, Blake flipped a pass to Richard and he one-timed it between McCool and the left post.

The Forum crowd erupted and Richard, already exhausted from the harsh physical punishment he had endured all night, was mobbed by his teammates. By the time he reached the Canadiens bench, he had collapsed.

Referee King Clancy retrieved the puck and turned it over to Malone, who would present it to Richard after the game. The feature film “The Rocket” depicted it in a more theatrical style, with Lach retrieving the puck and showing it to Malone and the crowd.

“This Richard is a great hockey player,” Malone said afterwards. “He’s fast, game and powerful. Richard, I tell you, would be a great hockey player in any day, age, or league.”

The Forum fans whistled and cheered for nearly six minutes. It would be another 10 minutes after before the game started again, as officials cleared the ice of debris after a makeshift ticker-tape parade.

The puck from the historic moment eventually found it’s way onto the trophy pictured below. It also includes the puck from the end of the 1944-45 season, when he became the first to score 50 goals in 50 games, as well as his 200th career goal.

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A little known fact, the trophy is one of several Richard artifacts designated by the Province of Quebec as a cultural item. It cannot be dismantled, altered and muist remain in the province of Quebec. If the current owner elects to sell/auction it, the Quebec government reserves the right to match the selling price if it chooses.




1 comment:

Dany Mercury said...

It is impossible that Maurice Richard scored his 44th goal of the season on February 18, 1945 as the game ended at 0-0. Perhaps, you meant February 17, 1945. They would have been in Toronto on that date instead of Chicago.

Small correction: Elmer Lach did not take the puck to show it to Joe Malone, in "Maurice Richard." It was Toe Blake, as he was the captain.